Dear NVA Members,
It is with great sadness that I write to tell you that my father, Bobby Winton, passed away on 25th February 2009. He died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 94.
As you know, Bobby was taken ill shortly before Christmas with a lung infection, and stayed in hospital for six weeks. Although fully recovered from that, his stay weakened him and when home, he was walking with a stick. Despite that, Dad was determined to get back to the spry self he was before that, and was doing very well. Dad was nothing if not stubborn, and regularly tried to walk without the stick, and carry things he shouldn’t, much to the family’s dismay! Heather is doing very well – she eats and sleeps as before, although she is devastated at the loss of Bobby.
The many messages of condolence are very gladly received. Dad was always keen to keep in touch with the people he knew through fencing, and very much enjoyed his visit last year to present the Winton Cup. I found the album that the Vets made for him and Nicky on his desk, and we have all smiled at the fact he could still get into that jacket after so many years! We have also found (when I say found, you will not be surprised to know that all his stuff was catalogued and alphabetised!) albums of photos from the 1930s and 40s of him fencing with Nicky at open-air events – how times change.
Bobby will be committed at Golders Green Crematorium on 10th March at 3pm. His wish was for family flowers only, and donations to the Finchley Society. I would be very grateful if you could inform the Vets, who clearly held much affection for him, of his sad passing, and of the date of his funeral.
Malcolm Fare, the BFA Archivist, has been wonderful. He has called round for us, and asked if it is OK for fencers and friends to attend – of course it is. Dad had a lot of records of what he did for the AFA, positions he held, and notes. If there is anything you would like to know, then please ask me and I will attend to that in due course.
Thank you again for all you did for Dad, he really appreciated it.
Donations to The Finchley Society:
Please send cheques to 17 Abbots Gardens, East Finchley, London N2 0JG
Bobby Winton’s funeral was attended by NVA Chairman Frank Mills and Life President Henry de Silva, as well as many others from the fencing world. Moving tributes were made by friends and family, including his brother Nicky, who stood unaided two months short of his 100th birthday.
Fencing was Bobby’s passion and he was to become one of the most influential administrators in the sport’s history. He started fencing at Stowe School and then joined Salle Bertrand. During the 1930s Bobby competed at foil and epee under the original family name of Wertheim, which was changed to Winton in 1938. The following year he won the junior epee championship and came third in the British championship.
After the war Bobby and Nicky moved into fencing administration. They felt strongly that the sport needed a competition involving fencers from all over the country. And so they devised the Winton Cup, an inter-section team event that was presented by them in 1950 and continues to this day as the most popular team competition in fencing. The format was extended to include cadet fencers in 1988 and, finally, last year to the veterans. It was wonderful to see Bobby at the Veterans Winton, where he presented the trophy nearly 60 years after the first Winton Cup.
Throughout his long and active life, Bobby worked tirelessly for the development of fencing, serving for over 50 years as a member of the AFA Executive Committee. He also found time to set up the AFA’s London Section and played a leading part in establishing competitions for boys in state schools. He was chairman of the Men’s Foil Committee from 1961 to 1978 and for over 30 years he was a member of the committee responsible for the Association’s financial administration. In short, Bobby helped transform the way the sport was run from an autocratic organisation to a modern democratic structure.
One of his most important roles was in helping the then President of the AFA, Nick Halsted, prepare articles and bylaws to incorporate the Association as a limited company. Nick relied on him enormously, both for the sharpness and precision of thinking he brought to this task and in general terms as a wise advisor, always objective and unpartisan. Nick used to say that Bobby’s greatest asset was that he had no axe to grind. This impartiality enabled him to consider every issue on its merits, diplomatically steering people towards the most sensible decisions.
In 1965 Bobby was elected a Vice-President of the AFA. He was awarded the Association’s gold medal in 1985 and received the MBE in 1987. The fencing world is much the poorer for his passing.
Reactions from NVA Members
I write this on behalf of the committee who join me in sending our condolences to Heather and the Winton family.
Bobby was close to our association for some time, and we were delighted when he joined with his brother Sir Nicholas, in suggesting that we organise a Veterans Winton Cup in 2008.
It was an immensely successful inaugural event held at Lilleshall in September, and we were delighted that Bobby and Heather were able to join us on the Sunday and present the trophies and, of course, the Veterans Winton Cup.
The welcome given to Bobby and Heather by some 160 veteran fencers participating, was a clear indication of the respect and gratitude owed to Bobby for not only his support of the NVA but also for the role he has played for many years in support of fencing throughout the UK.
The competition was conducted throughout the weekend in the very spirit that Bobby and Sir Nicholas had requested i.e. that veteran fencers at all levels should be encouraged to take part in a friendly and competitive event with the opportunity to socialise with fellow fencers and their families.
We were pleased to be able to give Bobby and Sir Nicholas an album of photographs and pages signed by those who took part, and in thanking us for this, he told us that he felt a particular affinity with the NVA and the members and in the development and growth of veterans fencing in the UK.
Bobby always took a great interest in the activities and plans of the NVA, and he will be greatly missed by us all as a true friend of veterans fencing.
Thank you for forwarding the sad news of Bobby Winton’s passing. I did not know him or the family personally but was aware of his achievements. Please pass on my condolences to the family should you contact them.
I’m so sorry to hear this very sad news.I will forward this e-mail to my coach Les Jones, who I know will be shocked to hear this sad news. I loved being involved with the vets winton it was such a great weekend and made all the better that he was able to come and present the cup.
Please pass on my condolences to his family and friends.
Thank you for the information from Peter Winton, it is indeed sad news.
The Winton Trophy made a major contribution to British Fencing. I remember
with pleasure the times I captained the North West team at the Winton in the 1950/60’s
Thank you for the information on the sad loss of Bobby Winton.
There will be very few of us that have not fenced in the Winton cup and for that reason his name will live on.
The end of another era.
It’s hard to believe that someone who looked so fit and well only a few months ago has passed away. He was a great servant to British Fencing.
I am glad that he was so organised as it will make it much easier to give him a deserving obituary.
Although I have known him almost from the beginning of my fencing career and indeed met him more than once in competitions but I believe most of his vast contribution to our sport has been on the administrative side and I will be fascinated to learn more about which I should know.
What a sad loss. Bobby will be much missed.
Please pass on my condolences to his family.
That is very sad news indeed.
I have also passed on the news to my father who knew Bobby quite well.
Thank you for passing on the note from Peter Winton, about his father.
Many thanks for letting me know about the passing away of Bobby. I will pass the information on to the Norfolk Club secretary who will no doubt send condolances on behalf of the club.
Thanks for letting me know – how sad but what an inspiration he was.
Thank you so much for letting me know the very sad news.
Thanks for passing on this sad news. A full and energetic life with longevity no compensation for the sense of loss at this time. I’m sure the Vets will be well represented at the funeral.
Many thanks for this sad news.
My first Winton Cup for the North East region was late 70’s and they were always wonderful if daunting affairs for young fencers.
I have some great memories of successive Winton Cups and obviously Bobby’s legacy will live on for many years to come.
I am so sorry to hear such bad news please can you pass on my message to the Winton Family.
Thanks for your e mail, with the letter from Peter Winton. I didn’t know that Bobby had any children and in fact only vaguely remember meeting Heather once when I went round to Bobby’s house for something – he lived 5 minutes from where we did.
I had heard from Malcolm Fare with a request for any information on Bobby for an Obituary – I have done so. Bobby was a force in the AFA administration for many years – indeed he got the MBE for it!
All the best
Thanks so much for sending this on to me. I had known Bobby for longer than I can remember, and I have very fond memories of him, his support and kindness.
I am not able to get to his funeral, but will write to Joan and contact his son. Also send a donation. I am sure there will be a good representation from the Vets.
Sad news indeed.
How sad, but Bobby had a long and good life and how lucky to be active to
Tthank you for passing that on; it is sad but at the same time what a role model, a life well lived. I only hope I make it to 94 and still be as active and enjoying life. I’m so glad that the Vets Winton was brought back and not a moment too late.
Many thanks indeed. He was a splendid man who really helped fencing.
Many thanks for this sad news. Bobby Winton has done as much as anyone in the cause of British fencing.
Thank you for your e-mail.
Sorry to hear about the departure of Bobby Winton. What a great man he was and what a blessing was his long life for many.
My condolence goes to his family and to all that shares memories of him.
I’m sorry to hear this sad news. On behalf of all the Scotland Veterans, please convey our condolences to the family. I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him, but Alan Loveland commented:
“I used to attend committee meetings with Bobby in London some 35 years ago
and the blazer he wore at Lilleshall last September was definitely the one
he was wearing then.”
I include this, because it seemed so apt, given the comments from Peter.
I realise we in Scotland have not been so active in the Veteran’s scene as the other nations, and I know that you John will be aware of this, but also aware of what I have been doing to change this. In recognition and remembrance of Bobby’s spirit and his contribution, I will do all I can to get a memorable Scotland squad to the Winton Cup this year.
Sad to hear about Bobby Winton.
If you get chance please pass on my condolences to Peter,
There are many people inn the UK who have reason to be hugely grateful to him and I don’t mean just for his fencing.
I’m sure Malcolm and key people at BFA will pay the appropriate acknowledgements.
Joan and Mike Whitehouse
Thank you for passing on the sad news from Peter Winton.
My son, Peter, passed on to me the very sad news of Bobby’s death along with your own gracious and touching note, which was entirely fitting for such a great man.
I knew Bobby fairly well in the late 50’s and early 60’s, but was amazed to find that he remembered me when our paths crossed at British Fencing’s AGM three or four years ago.
Bobby had a special place in the hearts of many of us from my time and well before! I well recall the early days of the Winton Cup and the very special ‘confrontations’ it provoked both on the piste and off. Above all though I remember his gracious concern for those much junior to him. I felt and valued this as friendship at the time; and another friend I spoke with only yesterday evening recalled Bobby’s concern for and interest in the progress of the young fencers from schools which at that stage had still not made their mark, like West Square at the Elephant and Castle.
Sadly, I shall not be able to come to the service, as I shall be in hospital on the 9th and 10th. I would, however, like you to know that I shall be thinking of Bobby with great appreciation of and profound thanks for his enormous positive influence on fencing over such a long period.
With my sincere condolences to you and the whole family,
I have just seen this on returning from abroad. I am very sad to have missed the funeral. I will of course write to Heather. Bobby will be very much missed. I always enjoyed my dealings with him; he was so sensible and of the greatest integrity.